Safe keeper of India's wilderness

Jun 05, 2013, 10:05 IST | Ruchika Kher

Ten years ago, entrepreneur Hemendra Kothari launched the Wild Life Conservation Trust to help protect India's biodiversity and threatened wilderness. On World Environment Day (WED), the eco warrior shares with The Guide the urgent need for the world to understand the immediate requirements of wildlife protection, the challenges ahead, and why an environment-friendly lifestyle promises a better tomorrow

When most boys his age were either busy whiling away their time or hanging out with friends, nature lover Hemendra Kothari was mapping the length and breadth of forests. Even when professional responsibilities dominated his routine, he still managed to sneak some time out to visit forests, bask in the greenery, hike and trek across the country.

Hemendra Kothari

Make the difference
One fine day, he felt the time and need to give back to the wildlife, a space that provided him with immense pleasure and tranquility. Thus, the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) was born a decade ago. “Through WCT, we support 82 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries spread across 15 Indian states, to strengthen their protection mechanism. 

Hornbill at Kaziranga National Park

The Trust provides support in the form of specially designed rescue vehicles, wireless equipment, GPS units, cameras, flashlights, solar charging equipment and water purifiers among other important equipment to the forest staff. The Trust also trains frontline forest staff in wildlife law enforcement to prove the conviction rates of poachers thereby attempting to reduce illegal trade in wildlife,” adds Kothari, who is also the chairman of an investment management company.

A group of deer at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Pic/Rane Ashish

Tough terrain
While wildlife conservation and taking cognisance of environmental issues are a priority in Kothari’s life, dealing with the roadblocks along the way is no cakewalk. Kothari apprises that the challenges of conserving wildlife in a densely populated developing country such as India are enormous.

He stresses that the lack of adequate government resources in the wildlife sector makes the job of a private charitable organisation difficult. Unless a proper gap analysis is conducted, an NGO cannot create a sizeable impact on the ground.

“WCT tries to channelise the available funding to maximise ecological returns. For this, forested areas are identified based on parameters such as the wildlife and hydrology potential, connectivity with other forests and long-term government commitment so that our funds serve to supplement the existing government efforts. The real challenge is to scale-up the conservation initiatives to engulf a large landscape and bring about a long-lasting positive impact,” he explains.

Country’s eco report
As far as India’s approach towards environmental conservation is concerned, Kothari feels that the government needs to shun its tepid methodology.

“The biggest challenge is to narrow down the gap between rich and poor via a steady economic growth. This isn’t easy but can be achieved if the economy takes the ecological requirement of its natural ecosystems into consideration.

There are many examples worldwide that prove that long-term economic stability is closely linked with the ecological security of a nation. Today’s planners must be made aware of this fact and avoid sacrificing the environment for short-term economic goals,” he stresses.

WED events around Mumbai
Scrap no more
Inorbit Malls is creating structures across its locations from scrap
and waste to spread awareness about the benefits of reuse. The structures will be designed by Mumbai-based architect and
interior designer Venkat Yerramshetty.
Till: June 9
At: Inorbit Mall at Malad and Vashi.
Recycled gold
Design store Chromakey is offering a special range of products which are made out of recycled spares. They have desk lamps made from the headlight of a Harley Davidson, a centre table made from an old refrigerator, a range of desk products like pencil stands, photo frames and coasters, made using colour pencils and worn out computer motherboards.
At: 9, Taher Mansion, opposite Yes Bank, 10 A, Napeansea Road.
Call: 9820833081
Get free cosmetics
Cosmetic brand MAC has a special offer where if you return six empty packs of any MAC product and they will gift you a free lipstick.
At: All MAC outlets.
Book exhibition at Learning Ladder
Drop in to Comet for a selection of environmental books for all age groups. On offer are field guides for parents and teachers, story books for children and read-aloud books for those too young to read themselves. On June 5 and 8, they will showcase a selection of films on the environment from 6 pm
to 7 pm.
Exhibition till: June 10
At: Comet Media Foundation, 301 Meher House, 15 Cawasji Patel Street, Fort. call 22876033

> The most precious commodities, water and electricity, must be judiciously used.
> The groundwater table across India is steadily falling. People should start harvesting rainwater to avoid acute water crisis in the near future.
> Wherever possible, people must attempt to use renewable energy such as solar energy for electrical appliances.
> Large corporations can contribute by reducing their carbon footprints and by channelising the CSR budgets towards environment-oriented projects that advocate use of renewable energy and reduce forest degradation.  

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